Trojans clip visiting Bruins in straight sets
Junior middle blocker Steven Shandrick might not get the same attention as his teammates, but his solid play in USCâs victories has propelled the Trojans to one of their best records in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play.
Such was the case yet again on Thursday.
The 6-foot-7 junior registered five kills, one ace and two blocks to help the No. 1 USC menâs volleyball team Â (20-2, 18-2) rout No. 8 UCLA (25-12, 25-22, 25-21), as the Trojans bested their crosstown rivals in every statistical category, including hitting percentage, aces, digs and blocks.
âThat was a great win,â Shandrick said. âObviously, in the crosstown rivalry, records donât really matter as much. That said, we made a lot of errors in the second set, and we canât do that again Saturday night. There are always things to work on.â
Senior opposite Murphy Troy and junior outside hitter Tony Ciarelli led the team in kills, finishing with 16 and 12 kills, respectively.
In fact, Ciarelli and Troy exasperated UCLA coach Al Scates so much in the first set that he decided to sit two of his struggling core players, juniors quick hitter Weston Dunlap and opposite Kyle Caldwell, for almost the entire match. Dunlap, who is second on the UCLA team with 259 kills on the season at an impressive .461 efficiency rate, managed zero kills at a paltry -.286 clip before bowing out after the first set.
âScates usually moves guys in and out of the lineup based on match-ups, but that was a little surprising,â said USC coach Bill Ferguson. âWhen we face them again next week, I expect him to stick with a more consistent lineup.â
There was a rather odd dynamic to this game, as the Trojans will face UCLA next week in the opening round of the MPSF playoffs. USC, however, was pleased with the statement it made.
At the end of the third set, Ciarelli emphatically sealed the victory with a cross-court kill after a UCLA player attempted to rope him into some competitive banter.
With so much at stake for the Trojans this season, Ciarelli refused to enter the fray.
âMy number one reaction is that it is always great to beat UCLA,â Ciarelli said. âWe always get fired up for these rivalry games, and there is no doubt that that type of energy always works to our advantage.â
USC closes out its regular season at home tomorrow at 7 p.m. against No. 6 UC Santa Barbara.
The Trojans upended the Gauchos in straight sets, 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 earlier this season.